Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Learn to Speak French with French Essentials {Schoolhouse Crew Review}

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In our homeschool, I like to have my children learning a foreign language. I started off my boys with Latin when they were younger, and all three of my children have taken some Spanish. Currently, my third grade daughter and sixth grade son are taking more Spanish, but when I asked my oldest son who just started high school what language he wanted to learn this year he said, "French." Our last name is French, so I figured it would be the perfect language for him to learn, but I didn't know where to start.

Well, you can imagine my excitement when French Essentials offered the Schoolhouse Review Crew a chance to use their French program specifically designed for home learners. I received the Full Access Online Program for one year which includes Modules 1-5.


French Essentials is an online-based program developed by experienced French teachers. Designed for home learners, downloadable lessons teach French (international French) by following a steady, step-by-step method which is perfect for beginners. No previous knowledge of French is required by you or your child. French Essentials is unique in that it provides a multi-sensory approach to learning by targeting four language acquisition skills -- reading, writing, listening comprehension, & speaking -- through audio, video, and written exercises. This program also includes online exercises, activities, tests, and culture.


There are 5 Modules (Modules 6-10 are coming soon) that make up this program, and they can be purchased individually for $69.95. You have 90 days to download the lessons and workbook and have access to all of the online features. You can save quite a bit of money (over 50%) by purchasing Full Access for $149.95 which includes all 5 Modules. Full Access includes over 90 lessons, and you have one year to download all of the modules. Plus, you have access to all of the online features. It is my understanding that even after the year is up, you can still use all of the lessons and workbook pages you have downloaded, and this includes continued access to the online features. Though I received the program at no cost, I had to go through the purchasing process and found it to be very user friendly.

System Requirements


Adobe Reader
Adobe Flash Player


Adobe Reader
Adobe Flash Player
Quick Time

*You can download all of the above for free.

Age Recommendation

French Essentials recommends that children are at least in third grade before they start the program since the written part requires a third grade reading and writing level. Currently, there are only 5 Modules available, but when the program is complete, it will have 10 Modules. Here are the approximate grade level equivalencies:
  • Grades 4/5 - 7/8 ~ Modules 1-5
  • Grades 8/9 ~ Modules 5 & 6
  • Grades 10/12 ~ Modules 7-10
As I mentioned before, my ninth grade son is starting with Module 1, and it is working just fine. Because he is older, he can move through the lessons at a faster pace. (He is already on Lesson 14) I did have him take the online placement test to see if he could skip ahead, but according to the results, he needed to begin with the first module. I assume this would be true for any beginner. Even though my oldest child is the only one using this program right now, there is no limit to how many children can use it.

Getting Started

Once you've completed the purchasing process, you can log in to your account and begin downloading lessons and worksheets. You will find these components in the Student Area online. After that, make sure you print the Checklist sheet in order to keep track of lessons completed and test scores. (Checklist sheet and workbook are located in the "Parent Corner" of the download page.) That's really it. You are ready to begin! Right away, I downloaded all 20 lessons and the workbook (including answer key) for Module 1, and I know that I still have plenty of time to download the rest of the modules. :)


You can access lessons by clicking on the downloaded files on your computer. I created a shortcut on our computer so my son could easily find his daily lessons. Each lesson states an objective and then continues with a series of interactive exercises - audio and video are embedded into the PDF. No worries over internet interruptions! The number of exercises differs for each lesson, but the last exercise always instructs students to do the written part of the lesson. There are instructions for your child to print the worksheet, but I actually printed out all of the worksheets for Module 1 beforehand. Your child can complete the online activities and quizzes by clicking links provided in the lessons. It's really very simple. You can view sample lessons, videos, and curriculum outlines for each module by clicking this link.

My son can easily access the online portion of each lesson by clicking the appropriate icon. The program automatically grades quizzes which I love. He prints off the quiz so I can record his score, and then he files it in his 3-ring binder. He chooses to print the lessons and file them along with his worksheets as well.

Below are some shots of the Checklist sheet for Module 1, lesson pages, and a quiz.

My son keeps everything nice and orderly in a 3-ring binder. The Checklist is in the front pocket, completed lessons are "ringed" in the middle, and lesson worksheets yet to be completed are in the back pocket.

Being able to learn more about French culture is a neat online feature. You can open up PDF files that correspond to lessons you're working on by clicking images that are shown in the screenshot above. You'll learn about standard French greetings (including kissing!), what a Francophone is, where French is spoken in the world, etc. You can also see beautiful images of France and Quebec and click on links to learn more about famous places such as the Eiffel Tower and Mont Saint Michel.
Final Thoughts/Opinion
Overall, French Essentials is wonderful program. My son says he really likes that everything he needs to complete a lesson is located right within the PDF files. Having all of the links in one place makes it an easy-to-use curriculum.
I love that besides downloading and printing there is little teacher preparation, and I don't have to know what my son is learning in order to grade his work. The videos, which feature native speakers, are an excellent teaching tool that brings French to life. I am looking forward to using this program with my other children, and I can't wait until Modules 6-10 are ready!
If you or any of your children are interested in learning French, this is a must-see program! Check out other reviews by clicking the banner below. Bonne journée!
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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your review!!

Greg & Irene Shone, authors


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